Having sought asylum in the UK at the age of 17 and alone, an aspiring barrister is campaigning to help other young refugees find their feet on arrival in this country.
23 year old Musa Nela, originally from Albania is looking to create systems of support for young people who are seeking asylum in the UK, by lobbying the government to allocate them a guardian. This only exists in Scotland and Northern Ireland at the present time not yet in England or Wales.
Nela who graduated in law this year from the University of Law,Birmingham, and is staying on to study the bar course with a masters, received a £3,000 grant from ULaw to kickstart the initiative as part of its ‘Change the World’ fund.
ULaw launched the fund last year as a way to support students in making a significant impact on our society. It originally pledged to award £5,000 funding to the winning initiative, a race mentoring project run by LPC student Katie Landsborough, but decided to make an additional £3,000 donation to runner up Nela.
Nela’s ‘Distress Signal’ campaign raises awareness of the need for independent guardians for isolated minors. He launched the campaign during Refugee Week earlier this year and is now working with various organisations in order to promote it further, alongside his bar studies.
“Every child needs someone to turn to. I and many others have faced this struggle and we want to create a real change for the children who arrive after us, We want to meet with decision-makers and tell them our stories and vision for change, as only by coming together can we make a real difference”.
Nela explained how having a guardian help him during the immigration and asylum process helped make his ‘wildest dreams come true’. With his volunteer’s advice he was able to apply for and study law.
Nela went on to say: “At the age of 17 I arrived in the UK, I was an unaccompanied asylum seeker for three years. I did not have a voice and could not find competent legal advice. I was able to get though the asylum process and I managed to survive but I know that not all young people make it through. I don’t want anyone that comes to this country alone at the age of 17 to go through what I have gone through because I did not have a legal guardian”.
Regarding his plans for the future Nela added: “I want to become a barrister, open my own law firm and be a voice for those who don’t know their rights or have the opportunity to fight for them”.